Meet the team

Widening Participation at the University of Sussex

Anne-Marie Bird
Outreach Project Lead (Key Stage 2-3)

Since graduating from the University of Kent in 2005 I have completed a PGCE in Secondary Education, and worked at the University of Brighton and Queen Mary, University of London, in Widening Participation (WP) and student events respectively.

I have worked in the Widening Participation team at the University of Sussex since 2011, and I thoroughly enjoy working on such a beautiful campus and in such a perfect location (as I am born and bred Brighton so I am, perhaps, a bit biased).

I was the first in my family to attend university, after applying somewhat on a whim, and I now firmly believe it is vitally important that we make information, advice and guidance regarding higher education options – and the associated career paths – more readily available to pupils who may not otherwise receive it.

My role in the team is focused on developing and delivering a programme of outreach for primary school students, with the understanding that supporting aspirations and raising awareness at a young age is a key tool in supporting young people to achieve their educational potential.

Outside of work my time is spent having as much fun as possible with my young daughter before the day comes that I’m packing her bags for university.
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Mandy Cudby
I am responsible for managing our WP Student Ambassador programme, as well as developing and delivering a training programme to ensure our ambassadors have the skills they need to support the WP team’s activities both on and off campus.

I also work closely with our network of London schools in delivering outreach which helps pupils to make an informed decision about Higher Education.

Prior to joining the University of Sussex, I worked at Aston University as a Schools Liaison Officer where I was responsible for managing all pre-16 enrichment activities for students throughout Birmingham and the West Midlands.

I have also completed a PGCE in Primary Education, in addition to a CELTA, having taught English as a Foreign Language for number of years
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Zoe Dawson
Collaborative Partner Lead

I graduated from the University of Sussex in 2013 with a Geography BA. I work within the outreach team to deliver campus visits and cohort workshops to our partner schools and colleges.

I was the WP Graduate Intern for a year in the team and worked across outreach, events and summer schools which enabled me to gain an understanding of how all aspects of WP operate.

As I was involved in Aimhigher schemes during my school years, I can relate to the young people we are working with to ensure they are appropriately guided in their university decisions.
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Chris Derbyshire
Schools and Colleges Partnership Coordinator

I left school with no significant qualifications but completed an electrical apprenticeship.

Through no planning (more reactive knee-jerk responses to life’s ills) I attended the University of Sussex to study History in 2000.

I completed a Masters in 2004 and suspended work on a doctorate in order to take a full-time managerial role in Widening Participation with Aimhigher (something I had balanced alongside my studies). I have worked in this sector for 10 years now in a number of roles. I enjoy partnership work and networking, I am passionate that young people are enabled to make informed choices.

Outside of work I adore my family and have strong interests in music, sport, and writing. History continues to have a dominant presence in all my areas of interest.
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Sam Dunnett
Deputy Head of Widening Participation

After completing my Psychology degree at the University of Central Lancashire I worked initially as a graduate trainee with an insurance company in Portsmouth.

I've had a very varied career including retail management, catering management, Human Resources, management training and coaching, complementary therapist and administration.

I joined the University of Sussex in 2010 and worked in one of our academic schools before moving to the WP team as an Events Lead. I am now responsible for the operational management of the WP team including outreach, schools partnerships and academic events.   

I love the job I do and am especially interested in how enhancing young people's wellbeing and mindset can help raise their academic attainment levels and really help them achieve their potential.

I'm a First Generation Scholar myself and I would like to see the opportunities education has brought me open to everyone.
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Luke Feasey
Widening Participation Outreach Assistant (Academic Events)

After finishing my degree in English Literature at Brighton in 2015 I started an internship with the University of Brighton assisting in the development of the new institutional strategy.
I then joined the Widening Participation team here at the University of Sussex working in the Academic Events team helping administer the Post-16 programme.

The time I’ve spent in WP has been immensely rewarding and I’m a firm believer in the ability of Higher Education to change the prospects for those most disadvantaged in society.

I am interested in the better understanding of our impact and reach across our programme and using this to guide how we target our events to our partners.
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Gino Graziano 
Joint Head of Widening Participation

I have been working in widening participation for 13 years. 

After completing a degree in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of East London I started working in the WP team at London School of Economics, where I coordinated Saturday and Summer Schools, the student ambassador scheme and Aiming for a College Education visits.

I also coordinated the School’s involvement with Pathways to Law. After LSE I worked as Widening Participation Outreach manager at the University of Brighton, where I oversaw the outreach programme, working with learners in primary schools to mature students on Access to HE programmes.

I subsequently moved to the University of Sussex, and am now in the role of Joint Head of Widening Participation.

I am particularly interested in evaluation and evidence gathering, which I believe is fundamental to the success of the national widening participation project, and have a remit for developing and implementing an evaluation plan for outreach.

I am also a firm believer in collaborative working across all stages of the student lifecycle, between internal departments and higher education institutions. Both of these, I feel, are critical to the future of widening participation and the experience of the learners we work with.

In my spare time I spend time with my family and collect soul records.

Cerri Hider
Events Project Lead (Post-16) (currently on maternity leave)
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Sarah Holman
Events Projects Lead (pre-16)

My first taste of Widening Participation was at secondary school where I was part of the Aim Higher scheme, then, as a first generation scholar myself, I went on to study Business with Marketing at the University of Brighton.

During my time there I worked as a Widening Participation Ambassador, speaking to students about my university experience and mentoring primary students (amongst other things), before completing a placement year at The Walt Disney Company in London working in PR.

I graduated from Brighton in 2015 and stayed on to work as an Events Assistant on their International Orientation Programme, before coming to the University of Sussex as an Events and Summer School Assistant in March 2016.

I now work on our pre-16 academic events and programmes, as well as our year 10 summer schools and other events.

Outside of work I love theatre, both watching but also performing on stage myself in pantos and musical theatre, singing (I’m part of a fantastic local choir group), the seaside, going to the cinema and spending time with family and friends.
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Rosie Jones
Outreach Assistant

I have worked in the Higher Education sector for the last five years, primarily with the First Generation Scholars shcme, first at the University of Brighton, and now at the University of Sussex.

I find it really rewarding to support students, and see their confidence grow, and their aspirations raised both before and during their time at university.

I have a BA (Hons) degree in Ancient History, and have recently completed an MA in Cultural History, Memory and Identity which focused largely on contemporary issues and structures within society.

My MA has further heightened my interest in social justice and I believe that everyone should be given the option to access university.
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Jacqui Le Huec
Team Administrator

I have a passion for the University of Sussex, having studied here as a mature student and having gained a Cultural Studies BA and a Life History MA. My long term goal is to complete the set with a PhD.

In recent years I have been lucky enough to be able to pass on my passion to pre-16's as a Widening Participation Co-ordinator in two local secondary schools.

I have enjoyed bringing cohorts of students to visit the university and to introduce them to the concept of Higher Education and the world of opportunity they can access therewithin.
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Chris Mason
Academic Events Manager

I have lived in Sussex all my life and my affiliation with the University of Sussex runs very deep.

I visited the campus in secondary school and it made me certain I wanted to study here - I love the greenery, the atmosphere and the people.

After attending a local college, I studied for an English Language degree and worked as a Widening Participation ambassador throughout my time here.

I became involved in WP because I was a First-Generation Scholar and university gave me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise - I wanted to tell others about my experiences and promote the independence and autonomy that a degree can give you.

After completing my studies I became the department’s Graduate Intern and moved on to become the Summer Schools Assistant before becoming Event Lead and now Events Manager.

I enjoy watching football (local non-leaguers and no-hopers Lewes FC, where I also co-edit the fanzine), writing, playing snooker, record collecting and going to gigs in and around town.
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Gavin Roffe
Outreach Assistant

I studied for a Chemistry MChem at Sussex and graduated in 2012. Following this I continued at Sussex to study a PhD in Chemistry which I completed in 2016, and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at university.

I was involved in the Aimhigher programme whilst at college and this was instrumental in my decision to pursue higher education, along with the support from my college.

Due to my experiences and the support I received in my journey to university, I want to ensure other young people reach their full potential, and now work in the WP team as an outreach assistant delivering our outreach programme to young people from schools and colleges across London and Sussex.
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Karen Stalker
Events Project Lead

I’ve wanted to work here at the University of Sussex since the first time I visited campus three years ago – it’s really beautiful, the atmosphere is really positive and inspiring and I work with so many passionate and committed colleagues within the widening participation team.

My job gives me the opportunity to work supporting young people across Sussex and London to make informed choices about their future.

I find working within Academic Events and Summer Schools rewarding and really interesting. I studied at the University of Liverpool and Aberystwyth as a first generation scholar and young parent and have worked for many years within student support, student finance, careers advice and guidance and adult guidance in Liverpool and Croydon.

 I moved to Brighton several years ago with my family and we love it here. I enjoy ashtanga yoga, reading fiction, all sorts of music and socialising.
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Lauren Symons
Outreach Assistant

I have recently graduated from Sussex University with a Media Practice (BA) Hons degree.

I am a first generation scholar and have been working with the University of Sussex since I was in year 9 in which I belonged to the programme, AimHigher.

Sussex was always my favourite when visiting different universities as it seemed like such a great place to study and the ambassadors that had shown me around, had a big impact on me.

I worked as an ambassador for Widening Participation from the first year, right up till the very end where I had worked up to be a senior ambassador.

Originally, I had wanted to work in the media industry, but over the years of working with students from WP backgrounds, I realised I had found my calling and new-found career path.

I now work with the different departments within our WP office and really enjoy learning about all the different areas I can get involved with.

Outside of the office, I love to go to the cinema, listen to music and spend time with family and friends.
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Maddison Taylor
Villiers Park Learning Mentor

I am very happy to be a part of the Widening Participation team at Sussex University having undertaken a BSc in Neuroscience here.

After graduating in 2015, I took my first position with the Alzheimer’s Society working in recruitment for research. I enjoyed my time there, but felt a natural pull towards working with younger people.

Working as a learning mentor with Villiers Park Educational Trust and the University of Sussex, allows me to share the great experiences I had during University with future first generation students like myself.

Much of the support I received during my time here was due to the opportunities provided by the WP department, so I am very excited to be able to offer young people similar support in achieving their full potential.
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Karen Tucker
Tutoring and Mentoring Coordinator

I coordinate the First-Generation Scholars Tutoring Scheme, placing undergraduates in local secondary schools to tutor students in English and mathematics. I also organise GCSE revision days on campus. The scheme has been running for a number years and is very popular with our partner schools. 

The undergraduate tutors help improve attainment, increase awareness of university and raise the aspirations of the young people they work with. I also coordinate the team’s mentoring and e-mentoring schemes.

I was the first person in my family to ever go to university. University opened doors for me that I didn’t even know were there and I feel strongly that every young person should have the opportunity to explore university as an option. I have a BA and an MA in English Literature and after graduating from UCL, worked in the media for many years. 

After having my own children I wanted to “give something back” and started working at the University of Sussex in 2003. I love being able to make a difference to the lives of young people and wish this scheme had existed when I was at school!
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Paul Wiggins
Senior Widening Participation Officer

Since graduating from the University of Nottingham I have worked in education in one guise or another.

After a year as an EFL teacher I moved into the third sector and spent five fantastic years working for IntoUniversity, an education charity based in London. I then joined the Widening Participation team at SOAS, University of London before taking up my current role at the University of Sussex in January 2015.

I strongly believe that every young person should have access to the support, guidance and nurture that will help them to fulfil their potential. I hope that my role coordinating activities on campus contributes towards a fairer education landscape for young people involved.

Outside of work I enjoy playing sport (mainly football), creative writing and cooking for family and friends.
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Dan Wise
Villiers Park Learning Mentor

Since graduating from the University of Sussex in 2014 with a History BA, I have worked across a number of roles in education.

I hugely enjoy the positivity and sociability of working with young people, and as a First Generation Scholar, I am passionate about working towards creating a more equal and inclusive educational landscape.

I have a huge affinity for the University of Sussex, both the Institution, and the beautiful setting – I was born in Sussex, and a great deal of my family are based here, so my connection to the area is strong.

My role in the team predominantly involves mentoring students at our partner Schools in Crawley; working closely with our partner the Villiers Park Educational Trust, we aim to raise aspirations, and equip scholars with the skills and support they need to make considered decisions – both educationally and more holistically.
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Carole Wilkinson
Joint Head of Widening Participation

After successfully completing a degree in Business Studies and a subsequent PGCE specialising in Business Education, University of Bangor, I taught a variety of Business related courses in both Secondary and Further Education sectors.

After being appointed by Aimhigher Sussex to deliver a programme of outreach for West Sussex schools based at the University of Chichester I then managed the Widening Participation team at Chichester for five years.

After joining the University of Sussex in 2013 I have been involved in developing the Widening Participation outreach programme through our innovative First Generation Scholars scheme, focusing primarily on our Access offer during the first stage of the student life cycle.

My passion is to ensure that we engage with all stakeholders involved in the student journey by drawing on the expertise of our academics and collaborative partners to enhance our core programme.
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